You may have noticed by now that I use the fodder of my own personal life as a jumping off point for many of my articles. After all, who knows better about my own experiences and life than I do? Truth be told, when I dreamed up this website two years ago I knew almost nothing about the plight of other species at the hands of humans, so I couldn’t really write about it with any accuracy. All I had was a feeling, a knowing that it was wrong and that I could no longer be a part of it. So if one doesn’t yet have the facts about that which one wants to write, then write through what one does have – personal experience.
So let me tell you about an enlightening experience I have been having for the last few days. It all started with a loving hug and a kiss from my little grandson who was just recovering from what appeared to be the stomach flu. He had all the usual side effects caused by his body trying to rid itself of the virus. This is never any fun for the little ones of course, but he was back in the pink within a couple of days and no worse for wear. I am sure you can see where I am going with this.
Sunday afternoon rolls around and I am just arriving back home from my weekend of family time – feeling kinda’ funny, feeling kinda’ off. I spend the rest of the day watching TV because I don’t really feel like I have enough energy to do much of anything else. My ten o’clock bedtime rolls around and I slide gingerly under the covers, knowing without a doubt that this is just indigestion and I will be FINE, just FINE tomorrow. After all it is Monday tomorrow and I have a lot I want to accomplish this week.
Fifteen minutes later the show begins and my best laid plans are shot to hell. I will spare you the details. You all have been there and know what it is like. As youngsters we would call out for our mothers (or fathers) who would help us through the worst of it. As adults, we usually must muddle through on our own, hoping for a reprieve, maybe wishing we still could call out to our mothers (or fathers) for care and understanding. Here I sit almost three days later, a little ragged around the edges, extremely crabby and feeling very self indulgent, asking anyone who might be listening:
Why me? why now?,
knowing really that the answer is “Why not?”
It is just the flu or a gastro or whatever the experts call it these days and not usually life threatening. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time – no malicious intention there. But no one would argue that it can be pretty intense and cause a lot of short term suffering over which one has absolutely no control. So, believe it or not, while I was having an intimate conversation with the “Porcelain God”, my thoughts turned to the pain and suffering of all the animals of other species for whom we advocate. Even though I am intensely aware of their pain, I have never really felt their pain, have never walked in their shoes, or hooves and paws and webbed feet, as it were. I imagined, in that moment, what it would be like to intentionally be caused to suffer day in and day out for every waking and sleeping moment. I imagined my pain as being the emotional pain of mothers deprived of their children, the fear of being transported in a truck or on a ship in deplorable conditions, the hopelessness of being hunted, captured, caged and gawked at by human onlookers who have nothing better to do and the terror of dying in a slaughterhouse.
These are just a few examples of the widespread and gross abject cruelty afforded our fellow nations on this earth, all because we feel we have a right to their skin, their flesh, their milk, their eggs, their fur, their reproductive systems, their bodies, their self respect, their very lives. We use them for food, clothing, furnishings, medicine, research, personal care and household products and in the name of entertainment, sport and tradition. We do this because we can and because we lack empathy for them. There is no question that we have selective empathy reserved for those we love, for other humans perhaps and maybe even for animals we call our “pets” but the buck stops there.
Empathy by definition is:
the capacity to understand or feel what another being (a human or non-human animal) is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.
I don’t know why our empathy is selective. It seems to me if one has the capacity to feel empathy that it would be an all encompassing emotion extended to all who suffer. Is it because we are brainwashed into believing that empathy is only for those of our own species, of our own ilk, of our own status, race, religion, creed and so on….? Or is this an emotional flaw in the basic character and moral fiber of we humans?
I would like to hope and to think that we are capable of extending our empathy and understanding to all those who, like us, are capable of suffering. The thought of living out the rest of my life in a world where empathy is merely a definition in the dictionary to be hauled out and practiced selectively and as a matter of convenience is abhorrent to me. This is why I am vegan.
Annie’s Vegan View
End the exploitation of other nations of animals for our wants not needs.
May all beings be happy and free.